When last summer came to end, I once again pondered the difference between summertime in my neighborhood now, and summertime in my neighborhood when I was growing up. We sound old when we reminisce back to the long summer days when we couldn’t get outside to play early enough, and we’d always protest when we were called inside at night to go to bed. All we wanted to do was be outside with our friends, and we took every opportunity to make that happen. Today, there are lots of children and teens in our neighborhood. But thanks to smartphones, video games, and parental fears about a dangerous world, we rarely see children playing outside. In fact, seeing a child ride down our quiet street on a bicycle is such a rare occurrence, that I find myself doing a double-take. Research has shown that physical activity not only fights the epidemic of obesity and declining health, but it increases a child’s academic performance. God has given us the gift of play. Encourage your kids to exercise the gift.